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U.S. Army veteran Bobby Henline with his service dog, Daisy.
U.S. Army veteran Bobby Henline with his service dog, Daisy.
Photo Credit: Christopher Frers

Providing a ‘home base’ for a wounded veteran

U.S. Army veteran Bobby Henline was awarded a mortgage-free home in Sanford, North Carolina, thanks to financial support and volunteer efforts from Wells Fargo and Military Warriors Support Foundation. 

On April 12, Wells Fargo team member volunteers came together at a house in Sanford, North Carolina — fixing a deck, pulling up nails, adding grout between bricks, and painting — to make the home move-in ready for a veteran they had never met.

The house, which Wells Fargo donated to Military Warriors Support Foundation, was refurbished by Wells Fargo team members and representatives from Military Warriors Support Foundation. It will be donated, mortgage free, through Military Warriors Support Foundation’s Homes4WoundedHeroes program to Robert “Bobby” Henline, a U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient. Henline, who served from 1989 to 1992 and again from 2001 to 2011, suffered injuries in 2007 when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle in Iraq. More than 38 percent of his body was burned, and his left hand was amputated, resulting in 48 surgeries since then.

Tim O’Brien, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending Asset Management, presents U.S. Army veteran Bobby Henline with the ceremonial key to his mortgage-free home. (3:39)

‘He definitely deserves this’

Henline was recognized for his service during the Wells Fargo Championship Military Reception breakfast on May 1 and received the ceremonial key to his mortgage-free home. “Like most veterans, I don’t like asking for help,” Henline said. “But this was the perfect timing. I was in limbo with work and trying to have a base. You can’t build your new chapter without a home base, and I can do that now. It means a lot.”

Fourteen Wells Fargo team members and three of their friends and family spent time working on the interior and exterior portions of the home. The effort was through the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation’s Team Member Volunteer Program, which provides assistance to veterans beyond traditional homeownership. The foundation also provided a $15,000 grant toward the home renovations.

This was the third time since the summer of 2017 that team members from the volunteer program worked on a military donation home. The team members who volunteered had varied reasons for giving back, but several of them did so because they have family members currently serving in the military.

“This is important to me,” said Jennifer Parry, manager for the Wells Fargo branch in Sanford. “It touches my heart personally because I happen to be a military wife. I just know how much our men and women do in their service for our country, especially this gentleman here, Bobby. He has been through a lot as a wounded veteran. He definitely deserves for his country to give back to him, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.”

Kelsey Brower works on the floor of the mortgage-free home donated to U.S. Army veteran Bobby Henline.
Wells Fargo volunteers work on improvements to the deck.
Sharde Wilson adds a coat of paint. She hopes the home will bring “joy” to Henline and his family.
A Wells Fargo volunteer scrapes wallpaper to help make Henline’s home move-in ready.
Bobby Henline’s new home.
Kelsey Brower and other Wells Fargo volunteers came together April 12 to prepare the mortgage-free home for U.S. Army veteran Bobby Henline.
Photo Credit: Connie Ledgerwood
Derek Stewart and Jordan Smitter of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage work on improvements to the deck.
Photo Credit: Connie Ledgerwood
Sharde Wilson adds a coat of paint. She hopes the home will bring “joy” to Henline and his family.
Photo Credit: Connie Ledgerwood
Jeanene Elliott of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage scrapes wallpaper to help make Henline’s home move-in ready.
Photo Credit: Connie Ledgerwood
Bobby Henline’s new home.
Photo Credit: Connie Ledgerwood

Jessica Willcox, a home mortgage consultant in Fayetteville, North Carolina, felt a close connection to the project because of her job and her role as the mom of a soldier. “I like to try to get as much time in the community as I can so I can meet the people around here,” Willcox said. “Being in the mortgage business, it kind of is a little more personal because it’s a home that we’re working on, so I was very excited to do this. It also makes me feel good because my son is in the Navy. I would like to think that if something ever happened to him the community would reach out and do something similar.”

Other team members said they volunteered because they felt compelled to donate their time. “It’s the least I can do,” said Patty Allred, a consumer loan underwriter in Raleigh, North Carolina. “You can give money, but to me, time is more valuable than money because you get the direct satisfaction of knowing exactly what you did.”

Whatever their personal reasons for volunteering, the team members agreed that providing a home for a veteran made the effort even more special. “I believe those who’ve served our country really deserve a special place here,” said Jordan Smitter, a business support consultant in Raleigh. “I’d be glad to do this for anyone, but even more so for somebody who’s within the military. We really appreciate their service.”

As for Henline, he said he was flattered that people who had never met him wanted to work on his home. “I’m a guy that’s used to helping everybody else,” Henline said. “For people who don’t know me to volunteer for me, it’s amazing.”

Contributors: Jessica Pacek and Dustin Wilson
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